WESTLOCK — Westlock residents will elect a new mayor and one new councillor early in the New Year, after former mayor Ralph Lergier resigned to take a new job in the private industry.
The byelection comes following the announcement that Town of Westlock mayor Ralph Leriger, first elected in 2013 and Coun. Jon Kramer, elected in 2021, tendered their resignations Nov. 10, effective immediately.
After 10 years of service as the mayor of the Town of Westlock, Leriger is stepping down to pursue another career opportunity. A press release from the town Nov. 15, stated that he has “accepted a role in private industry that prevents him from continuing to serve the Town in an elected capacity.”
Leriger thanked his fellow councillors, town staff and the community for their support over the past decade.
“The last 10 years have been nothing short of wonderful. I am proud of the work we did to improve and support our community, and I am honoured to have served with so many dedicated council members throughout the years,” said Leriger via the press release.
“It is hard to leave my council seat after a decade, but I have decided to make a change that works best for me and for my family. Thank you to my fellow council members, to town staff and to everyone in the community that has supported me during my time as an elected official. It has been an honour to serve and to represent you.”
Following the Nov. 14 council meeting, Kramer confirmed his intention to run for mayor in the upcoming byelection.
“That’s my sole purpose in resigning, that’s why I have to vacate my seat,” said Kramer, noting the role Leriger had in mentoring him during his first term as councillor. “I’ve loved my time on council … for the last two years we’ve been working very closely with each other. I’ve been learning as much as I can from him so when the time came, I’d be interested in stepping up — if the community would have me stepping into that role.”
Kramer noted the legacy that Leriger is leaving after serving as the town’s mayor for three terms and said the accomplishments and commitment by the former mayor will help the town transition to a new mayor with ease.
“It’s a big role for the community,” said Kramer. “In working with mayor Leriger, he hasn’t left us with ‘shoes to fill’, he’s given us ‘shoulders to stand on’ in very much that he has prepared the way and got the house in order here in Westlock.”
Under Leriger’s leadership Kramer noted how the town has built a reputation for good governance with a “real good road map.”
“Our council and our community is so well respected within the province for the way that things have taken shape here in the last decade,” he said, praising the town’s CAO Simone Wiley and her administrative team and staff. “We’ve got sound policies and bylaws that keep everything on the rails and financially, aside from our challenges with provincial funding, we’re in a far better place than we were 10 years ago.”
During the Nov. 14 meeting, councillors praised Leriger for his leadership and dedication to the community and thanked both him and Kramer for their work and time on council and wished them all the best.
Deputy mayor Murtaza Jamaly began, followed by remarks from other councillors, and shared a few words of gratitude for the former mayor.
“You know Ralph, it’s been a unique privilege for all of us on council to serve under you (during) your time as the mayor and our community owes you an immense debt for the sacrifice you’ve made for the last 10 years,” said Jamaly. “While the timing is rarely right when a golden opportunity knocks … I know you will make the most of your newest endeavour and we wish you all the best as you move to a new chapter.
“I know I speak for every single one of us here, both council and administration, when I say you may no longer be our mayor but you will always be our friend,” he added, noting a few words about Kramer as well and wishing him all the best.
“To Jon, I hope you know that you have council’s support as you move to fill the big shoes left behind,” said Jamaly.
Westlock residents will head to the polls for a byelection set for Jan. 10, 2024.